Miltary Service Checklist

31st Balloon Company Baseball Team, Ft. Knox, KY

It’s helpful to get a quick look at what military service records can or do exist for your ancestors, as these records can provide a wealth of information.

While I intend to take this list of ancestors back to the French-and-Indian Wars, tonight, I will just go back to the first World War.

My father served in the US Navy during World War II, but never left the continental U.S. He spent most of his time in NAD Hastings, Nebraska and NAS Norfolk, Virginia. There was also a stint in the brig.

His father, Lawrence Lake Jones, fought overseas in World War I, and served in the occupation of Germany, or at least that is what the lore says. This is supported by what appears on his military-issued gravestone, as it lists him as having served in the 26th Infantry, which fought in France and occupied Germany.

Ernest Melvin Hill, my maternal grandfather, was in the 31st Balloon Company, Aviation Section, U. S. Signal Corps, stationed at Fort Henry Knox, Kentucky. He was a chauffeur 1st class and a mechanic.

I realized by looking at these folks that I had not pulled Ernie Hill’s military service record, which is probably available. I also know that sometimes a record is recovered from the freeze-dried records of the St. Louis personnel office. So I should ask about my grandfather Lawrence Lake Jones’s records … just in case.

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IGHR (Samford) — Day 5 — Inheritance, Maps, and The Biography of Job

The Biography of Job

In the Virginia class today, Barbara Vines Little took us through a couple of examples where small nuances in the law of inheritance could help us sort through possible relationships in land records.

She also walked us through a vast array of map resources for Virginia. I will write a separate article about those.

After the class, I headed to the Samford Library Special Collections to see what else I could find out about Job, the African-American preacher.

I looked in the first box of materials about the history of the Canaan Baptist Church by Simon J. Smith. It was not in this box, though the accession records said that it would be. Thankfully, Elizabeth Wells, the Special Collections Librarian, was able to locate the “Biography of Job” mentioned in the accession book.

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IGHR (Samford) — Day 4 — Migration, Platting, & Blacks in Antebellum Churches

The fourth, and penultimate, day at Samford is always bittersweet. It’s the last full day, and is capped with the banquet.

In the Virginia class, Barbara Vines Little talked about land tax records and migration trails and settlement clusters. We also had a mini-course on land platting and Deed Mapper from Vic Dunn. The last lecture of the day was on “Finding the Answers in Virginia’s Neighbors Records,” driving home a point that has been made consistently this week: The record may be a place you don’t expect it to be. The bride and groom in Virginia may go to Maryland to get married, perhaps because the laws make it easier to accomplish there at that time, or perhaps because they are Catholic, and there are so few Catholic parishes in Virginia.

After the class I went to the Samford University Library, Special Collections room and pulled a folder from the Baptist records.

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IGHR (Samford) — Day 3 — O! the Fatal Stamp!

O! the fatal Stamp

Today’s IGHR course in Virginia genealogy got to the heart of the matter: Westward migration and Virginia (and Virginians) in the Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.

It felt like we were cramming a week’s worth of instruction into each 75-minute segment. And, indeed, there are a lot of events and a lot of records to cover.

A couple of standouts:

I had known that George Washington started the French and Indian Wars by allowing his troops to kill a French diplomat, then admitting culpability for the event in a French document he signed even though he could not read French.

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IGHR (Samford) — Day 2

In the “Records of Other Researchers” portion of the Virginia class at Samford today, we took a look at a volume entitled The Preston and Virginia Papers of the Draper Collection of Manuscripts. (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1915). This volume catalogs a subset of collections of the Draper Manuscripts, papers gathered by Lyman Draper for the Wisconsin Historical Society. These papers document the “history of the trans-Allegheny West from the frontier conflicts of the 1740s to the War of 1812.”

As you may have guessed, the Preston and Virginia Papers relate to Virginia. The book outlines the collection, with names of persons and summaries of the materials contained and the events described in them.

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IGHR (Samford) — Day 1

It’s a truism of genealogy that the laws determine what records might be available. One also hears an echo of Hal Holbrook in All the President’s Men: “Follow the money!” And, as Carl von Clausewitz said, war is the continuation of politics by other means.

Put these together, and you see that aside from vital records, most records are generated by laws, money, and militaries. In my week at Samford, I am studying the effect of land and wars on the records of Virginia. (Last year, we covered the impact of law more generally.)

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IGHR (Samford) 2010 — Registration Day

We arrived in Birmingham last night at about 8, and got our room at the Homewood La Quinta. It’s an excellent hotel, and the staff is helpful, and even interested in my stepson’s trumpet playing, but it would be nice to have wi-fi internet in the rooms, and not just in the lobby.

I walked through the 93 degrees and the humidity to the lobby of the Best Western to ride one of the free shuttles over to Samford University, as my wife and stepson had headed to Huntsville. (He’s attending Space Camp while I attend “Genealogy Camp.” It’s becoming a family tradition.)

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The National Archives at Atlanta

National Archives Southeast Regional Branch, Morrow, Georgia (Photo courtesy NARA website, under fair use)

On my way South and West to attend the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research, I took time out to stop into the National Archives  Southeast Regional Branch in Morrow, Georgia (near Atlanta). This branch serves the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee and provides documentary records (textual records, maps, photographs, and architectural drawings) relating to the conduct of national government operations in those states. It also has extensive microfilm collections

I wanted to take a look at the immigration and naturalization records available at the Southeastern Branch of the Archives.

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On the Road in Gastonia, North Carolina

I’m in the town of Gastonia, North Carolina, on the road to the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

This will be my third year in a row at Samford, having attended in 2008 to study military records with Craig R. Scott, CG; Rick Sayre, CG; et. al. Last year, I attended the class on “Virginia and Her Laws” with Barbara Vines Little, CG; Vic Dunn, CG; and Craig R. Scott.

I am returning this year to complete the second of the two Virginia classes: “Virginia’s Land and Military Conflicts & Their Effect on Migration” taught by Barbara Vines Little, Vic Dunn, and Craig R. Scott.

Each of these experiences has been richly rewarding. The instructors “know their stuff,” and impart it well. I come out of each week with my head swimming with data and ideas. With new ways to approach the records, new repositories to search out, and, in some cases, some new research results discovered in situ. There are few educational opportunities for genealogists and family historians that can compete with a week at Samford.

A press release from Samford University notes that “A record total of 286 students and 40 faculty members from 37 states and the District of Columbia will participate in the program…” If you do genealogical research, and you are concerned about methods, records, and repositories, you should brave the June weather in Birmingham, and join us at Samford some year.

In order to attend, you need to get on the Institute’s mailing list and be prepared to haunt your computer screen the morning registration opens up. This year many classes filled up within 45 minutes of the registration website opening; most were filled in the first two hours. It’s a highly sought after week. Hope to see you here next year, if you are not here this year.

Slave-Era Photo Found

Rare Photo of Slave Children
Rare Photo of Slave Children: John and an Unidentified Young Boy

Today’s news includes the report of the discovery — at an estate sale in Charlotte, North Carolina — of a slave-era photo of two young boys, one identified as “John,” and another unidentified, photographed by the Mathew Brady studio, probably by Brady’s assistant Timothy O’Sullivan.

It’s a stunning photograph. One can see the toll slavery has taken on these children. As it was less affecting at the time than the photographs of whipped and abused slaves, it is nonetheless an amazing testament to the evil legacy of the founding fathers who built the racial violence and subjection of black slavery.

As a genealogist, I cannot help but wonder whether these children had descendants, and whether these descendants are searching for them. Along with the photograph, a bill of sale for John for $1,150 in 1854.

What happened to the two young boys after slavery times? Where did their family live and go? How did their fortunes fare?